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Inspiration + Insights • Gradifi

How to Amplify Recruiting for a Younger Workforce

By Nancy Jackson | 4-min read

Ninety-five percent of employers say that identifying talent early is “very” or “extremely” important to their college recruiting process, according to new research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The college recruiting factor that ranks second is branding to campuses, with more than 90 percent of employers rating it as important.

With so many enterprise companies heading to college campuses to identify new talent and communicate their brands to a new class of employees, it can be challenging to set your organization apart from the crowd. But it’s certainly possible—and finding new ways to market your benefits package is an important part of the equation. Employers looking to stand out during recruiting season on college campuses need to understand the new rules of recruiting and what college students are looking for.

Blending Marketing and Talent Acquisition

Marketing and recruiting have traditionally operated in two separate silos, but more recruiters are realizing that adopting key marketing tactics can aid their recruiting efforts. Many of the most successful companies are increasingly using marketing tactics in their recruiting practices, according to research from Smashfly Technologies. Among Fortune 500 companies, those that scored “A” for adopting recruitment marketing have 62 percent higher revenue per year than those that scored “B” and 152 percent higher average revenue per year than those that scored “F.”

Some of the marketing tactics that seem to pay off most effectively include incorporating search engine optimization (SEO) for careers websites, building recruitment marketing content for job seekers, employer branding, a mobile-friendly candidate experience, lead nurturing and personalization throughout the candidate journey.

Reaching Students in New Ways

Today’s students are different from their counterparts just a few years ago. According to The Wall Street Journal, Generation Z, which includes people born after 1996, are more practical, serious and focused on finding financial security than Millennials. As true digital natives, they prefer communicating digitally. And since many of them came of age during the Great Recession, they understand the value of a steady paycheck and a “good job.”

Just as college students have changed, campus recruiting has changed: Career fairs and campus presentations are still important, but there are other ways to reach students and build relationships. Social media is now one of the most important ways to stay in touch with college students. Millennials spend an average of six hours per week on social media, according to Nielsen, so it’s an ideal place to engage with them. Just as a consumer brand might engage directly with a customer on social media, it’s perfectly acceptable—even positive—to engage directly with top student prospects.

And with an effective content strategy, before your recruiting team ever arrives on campus, students can already have a relationship or opinion about your company through videos and other online content. Sharing the story of your benefits package should be part of your company’s online presence: younger workers want to work for companies that promote a social and fun work environment, and an employee-focused benefits package can show your company’s commitment to building the culture they want. 

Using new media geared toward your target audience of college students can be an ideal way to share your story. For instance, Deutsche Bank has worked to build its employer brand among college students, particularly females, by partnering with Her Campus, a top media site for college women, written by college journalists. The Deutsche Bank campaign includes placements on the Her Campus job board, sponsorship of the site’s popular career and money section, and native content that features female executives from Deutsche Bank sharing their stories, along with social media ads. As a result of the campaign, the company has boosted awareness, applications for internships and entry-level jobs, and increased its number of female employees.

Prioritizing Student Needs

In recent years, numerous organizations have reevaluated their policies regarding how employees are treated and looked for new ways to prioritize employee needs. If your organization has done this, it’s also a good idea to examine policies regarding student prospects and interns. Remember, if you want students to eventually become high-performing employees, you must show them you value them and are willing to prioritize their needs, as well as the needs of your organization.

For instance, JP Morgan, like many competitive firms, has traditionally offered internships to students during the fall of their sophomore years for work that wouldn’t occur until the following summer. After extra consideration, JP Morgan leaders decided to put an end to early intern offers to allow students more time to experience college life and focus on their studies. By showing students that the organization values their needs at their current life stage, students are more apt to see that the organization would continue to value and respect their life stages and needs as future employees.

Updating Benefits

In recent years, the most popular benefit packages have changed, and younger workers want to know whether your company has changed with them. In today’s tight job market, with the economy at full employment, younger workers can find a good salary almost anywhere—so your benefits package is what sets you apart.

If your organization hasn’t updated its benefits package in a while, it may be time to revisit your offerings. One way to make a younger workforce happy is by offering voluntary benefits. These are important because, with ample offerings, each worker can get what they need, whether it’s helping with student loan repayment, help saving money for children’s education, flexible hours, or a wide variety of other important priorities.

And for many younger workers, benefits priorities are different than they were for their counterparts 10 or 20 years ago. For example, 86 percent of today’s employees say they’d work for the same employer for five years if that employer helped them with student loans, according to American Student Assistance — a significant statistic when you consider that 43 percent of Millennials plan to quit their current jobs within two years, according to research from Deloitte. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure you’re offering the benefits that matter to your younger workers, not only to recruit top talent but also to retain it.

As you head to college campuses to pursue your recruiting goals, keep in mind that while traditional college fairs are still important, there are a number of new ways to attract and reach younger potential employees and applicants.